The Academy of Art University is owned by the Stephens Institute. It was founded in 1929 by Richard S. Stephens in San Francisco, California. The academy has expanded since then to accommodate around 9500 soldiers.
The Academy of Art University was started as the Academy of Art Advertising in San Francisco by Richard S. Stephens, Creative Director for sunset Magazine. Richard Stephens expanded the curriculum in1933 to include fashion illustration and a Fine art Department was added later in 1936. The Academy of Art College was granted authority by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education in 1966 to award the Bachelor of Fine arts degree. By 1977 the college had added a masters Degree program to its degree offerings.
The Academy of Art University offers courses on campus as well as online degrees. The academy offers certificate programs in its fine arts programs. The programs constitute Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Architecture, Advertising, Animation & Visual effects, Computer Arts and New Media, Digital Arts and Communications, Fashion, Graphic design, Illustration, Industrial design, Interior Architecture and Design, Motion Pictures & Television and Photography. The Academy of art university is a participating institution in the U.S Department of education financial Aid Program.
The Academy of Art University has been the center of many controversies. In 2005 the Academy bought the St. Brigid Catholic Church which was sold to the academy as a cost saving method. The academy planned to demolish it but the church’s status as a landmark site made the demolition plans the center of controversies. In another incident in December 2003, the academy expelled one of its students for a piece of creative writing about a serial killer who dismembered his female victims. The writing lead to a series of teachers being fired and prominent writers like Stephen King and Salman Rushdie took up their cause in protest of the dismissals.
Notable alumni of the Academy of art University include Natasha Shah, Jennifer Bolanos, Tianyu Li, Mari Matsumoto, Deanne Fitzmaurice and John Vasicek.